Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Research priorities for idiopathic epilepsy in dogs : viewpoints of owners, general practice veterinarians, and neurology specialists

Abstract

Background

Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disease in dogs that adversely affects the quality of life (QoL) of affected dogs and their owners. Research on epilepsy in dogs is expanding internationally, but where best to focus limited research time, funds, and expertise to achieve better outcomes for affected dogs and their owners has not been studied.

Objective

To explore idiopathic epilepsy (IE) research priorities of owners of dogs with IE, general practice veterinarians, and veterinary neurologists.

Methods

An international online survey was conducted in 2016 and repeated in 2020. Participants rated the absolute importance and relative rank of 18 areas of IE research, which were compared between groups and time points.

Results

Valid responses were received from 414 respondents in 2016 and 414 respondents in 2020. The development of new anti-seizure drugs (ASD) and improving the existing ASD management were considered the most important research priorities. Areas of research with increasing priority between 2016 and 2020 included non-ASD management, with the greatest potential seen in behavioral and dietary-based interventions. Disagreements in priorities were identified between groups; owners prioritized issues that impacted their and their dog's QoL, for example, adverse effects and comorbidities, whereas general practitioner vets and neurologists prioritized clinical issues and longer-term strategies to manage or prevent IE, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

Ensuring that voices of owners are heard in the planning of future research should be a broader goal of veterinary medicine, to target research efforts toward areas most likely to improve the QoL of the dog-owner dyad.

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